Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
We live in a world dominated by technology. If you’re in a public place, virtually anywhere you look, you’re guaranteed to find objects that are modern technology products. Still, no matter how much technology has connected us with the rest of the world, it has created problems for families drifting apart due to excessive use of technology and even technology addiction. However, there are ways you can control your screen time so you can have more time for your family. Here are some tricks for accomplishing less screen time and more family time:
1. Don’t check your phone immediately after waking up
The first habit you must learn is avoiding grabbing your phone after waking up. If your first instinct is to grab your phone the moment you wake up, you’re allowing technology to take control of your day. It would be best if you refrained from checking your phone 30 minutes to an hour after waking up. It would help if you took this time to prepare for your day. It’s important to remember that the tone you set at the start of your day can affect the rest of it. You may also find that you’ll have more time for family and can get things done earlier simply by refusing to use your phone for about an hour when you wake up.
2. Avoid technology before bedtime
Like how you start your day, you should avoid technology before you end it. Using technology before bedtime can make it difficult to get to sleep. Studies have shown that using your mobile phone before bedtime can delay your bedtime, lead to poor sleep quality, cause sleep loss and irregular sleep patterns, to name a few. If your health is affected by excessive use of technology, you should consider cutting your habit of using your phone before bedtime.
3. Create designated social media time, or eliminate it altogether
Part of accomplishing less screen time and getting more family time means controlling when you engage in social media, if not cutting it out altogether. While social media platforms allow us to see what’s going on with our friends and peers, they can also give us unrealistic expectations in life, which can cause unforeseen mental dangers in your life. For instance, seeing the lifestyle of your more affluent colleagues can create a sense of discontent regarding your current lifestyle. As a result, you may be encouraged to emulate the way of life of the people you see on social media, spending more than you can afford. If you cannot completely remove social media from your life, that’s okay! As long as you limit your use and know the pros and cons that come with using it, you’re on your way to using social media platforms responsibly. This also sets a positive example for your kids, which can go a long way.
4. No phones during family time
Designate certain times during the week to spend with your family. During those times, you must avoid using phones altogether. The goal of family time is to spend quality time with your loved ones. You can do this by watching a film together, playing board games or discussing interesting things that have happened lately, among many other possibilities. To stay connected with your loved ones, disconnect from your phones during this time.
5. Turn OFF notifications
When you’re spending time with family, disconnecting is essential. It’s important to know how to maintain a work-life balance to have a healthy professional and family life. By turning off notifications, you are prioritizing your family during the time you’ve sworn to set aside from them. It shows that you know how to value your time with family. Also, not having specific app notifications during work hours will help you stay focused.
6. Unplug once a week
With how much we use technology nowadays, unplugging once a week is a good thing to practice for you and your family. By setting aside a day without using technology — such as phones, tablets and computers — you can spend time exploring other hobbies that don’t require using these gadgets. Maybe you could read a book, draw, knit, practice cooking, etc. You can also make the most of this day by designating it as a family day. Encourage your family members to try this also, because it can help lift your overall mental health spirits. You’d be very surprised.
7. Make a conscious effort to think before you use your device
Technology has given us a lot of power and convenience over the years. With a few clicks, you can send messages to anyone worldwide, watch videos, read news and connect to people across various social media platforms. What is often NOT practiced is the responsible use of technology. In social media, for example, it can be too easy to bully someone online or spread false news. As someone with access to technology, it is your responsibility to practice responsible tech use and teach those around you how they can do the same. If your family knows how to use technology responsibly, they can think twice before using their devices. Don’t be a slave to your device! Notifications can wait, messages can wait — remember you’re the one in control here!
8. Control your daily screen time
This one can be very tough, because we often use our mobile phones unconsciously, being sucked into social media feeds or checking emails. Controlling your daily screen time is essential to stop yourself from becoming too reliant on technology. While you may not be able to have a say when using technology for work, you can set limits on how much you use technology during your free time. Instead, you can use your available moments to spend quality time with your loved ones. This way, you can accomplish less screen time and more family time.